While some women find being a receptive partner during anal intercourse painful or uncomfortable, or only engage in the act to please a male sexual partner, other women find the activity pleasurable or prefer it to vaginal intercourse.
In a 2010 clinical review article of heterosexual anal sex, the term anal intercourse is used to refer specifically to penile-anal penetration, and anal sex is used to refer to any form of anal sexual activity.
Anal sex is considered a high-risk sexual practice because of the vulnerability of the anus and rectum.
The anal and rectal tissues are delicate and do not provide lubrication like the vagina does, so they can easily tear and permit disease transmission, especially if a personal lubricant is not used. It is controversial in various cultures, especially with regard to religious prohibitions.
Because of this, some couples practice anal intercourse as a form of contraception, often in the absence of a condom.
Male-to-female anal sex is commonly viewed as a way of preserving female virginity because it is non-procreative and does not tear the hymen; a person, especially a teenage girl or woman, who engages in anal sex or other sexual activity with no history of having engaged in vaginal intercourse is often regarded among heterosexuals and researchers as not having yet experienced virginity loss. Heterosexuals may view anal sex as "fooling around" or as foreplay; scholar Laura M.
sources sometimes use the term anal intercourse to refer exclusively to penile-anal penetration, and anal sex to refer to any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.
The anal sphincters are usually tighter than the pelvic muscles of the vagina, which can enhance the sexual pleasure for the inserting male during male-to-female anal intercourse because of the pressure applied to the penis.